PREVIEW: Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza
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This weekend, the UFC stops in the City of Brotherly Love for some wholesome cage fighting. In the main event, Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza look to put on the Fight of the Year performance fans have been expecting since the fight was announced. But who has the advantage?
Justin Gaethje may not have the best UFC record on the record, a measly 2-2 in his run in the promotion, but his two losses have been FOTY candidates and all of them have been fun to watch. He is a human highlight reel, never backing down and always searching for the knockout. That may have been why he ended getting finished by Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. The criticism that has resonated through his short UFC career has been that he is far too willing to take a shot to try to give one back. Alvarez and Poirier were good enough to avoid being hit with the biggest shots while landing bomb after bomb on Gaethje.
If he wants to beat Edson Barboza, pressure is the name of the game. That is one of his staples, but he has to make Barboza very uncomfortable. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, and mentioned on the podcast, HE NEEDS TO WRESTLE. He has a collegiate wrestling background, yet he never uses it. Ever. If he wants to take less damage and extend his career while also minimizing future brain damage, he should use a skill that limits the damage his opponents can land. Take Barboza down and when it is on the feet, pressure him constantly. If he does BOTH of those things, he has a real chance to win his second in a row.
Edson Barboza is one of the most electric strikers in UFC history let alone the Lightweight division. Look no further than the Terry Etim KO. What he can do on the feet is special. He has 3 KO wins via leg kicks. THREE! Leg kicks are one of Gaethje’s biggest weapons, but Barboza does it better. He has the creativity on the feet that Gaethje lacks, but he needs space to operate at peak efficiency. It will likely be a challenge for Barboza to find that range, but his boxing is also remarkably crisp. Not to mention, he’s coming off of his best performance of his career against Dan Hooker. Barboza is a scary matchup for a guy like Gaethje who wants to keep it standing at all costs. The one real issue Barboza has is wrestling. He is not a superb wrestler, and his last 3 losses have come at the hands of some of the divison’s best grapplers in Kevin Lee, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Tony Ferguson. However, like I said, Gaethje does not utilize his grappling prowess, so this fight might end up in Barboza’s wheel house.
Who do you have winning this one? Is it a potential FOTY? Let us know! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Be sure to check out our Store and Podcast. Finally, keep checking back for more previews, picks, fighter spotlights, and a whole lot more!